In response to Jay Z’s Tidal music streaming service there’s been some derision in tech and gossip blogs. It certainly did look ridiculous, all those famous musicians in one place, some of them wearing their identity disguising costumes (Daft Punk, Deadmau5). I’d like to learn more about Tidal but I’m going to root for it right now. Tidal has the backing of the most successful artists in the world. While they make an easy target for ridicule, they are where they are because they have loyal fans who will buy their records and go to their shows. I tried to see who is supporting Spotify. I saw that Bono is pro-Spotify in an article but I’m not finding any others. You see a lot of artists NOT supporting Spotify such as Bjork and Taylor Swift. I think for a streaming service to leverage celebrity artist support in such a direct way is a big deal. They can also release music exclusives on Tidal that won’t be anywhere else. I’d bet that hardcore fans, the ones who actually pay, are going to want that access. As a recording artist myself, I’m curious if the streaming payment will be better than other platforms. It’s usually about half a penny for paid-tier streams and dramatically less for ad-supported streams (maybe a tenth of a penny but probably even less than that). Musicians, especially successful ones, know how to connect with people. It’s very possible Jay Z may be on the way to figuring the streaming conundrum out.
The creative project I’m most excited about at the moment is my band Japan Soul’s debut LP Plastic Utopia created with my bandmates David Rozner and DaVe Lipp. The cover features an amazing painting by my wife and design partner Eva Orzech. I would really love it, seriously, if you would take a listen to the music. We’re allowing 4 (of the 10) songs to be streamed in advance of the release. If you like what you hear, and I hope you do, then I would love it even more if you did something that it seems people don’t do any more. I would love it if you took the bold step of pre-ordering the album. You’ll get the full album delivered to you on April 29. These tracks were made to surprise, delight and enlighten. I hope people will give this album a chance. A chance these days just means a listen. That’s it.
Did you listen? Did you like it? Did you think about buying it? Yeah, I know the feeling too. I mean, most of us don’t need to buy music anymore. Truth be told, I don’t make a living doing music. It’s hard to fathom how that would even be possible these days. I certainly spend enough on the production of it. As if it were actually a viable business.
Everyone loves music. I sense a malaise that fewer and fewer people actually buy music. This means the actual product of music will become less and less of a real product. That’s a sad thing. The truth is we can’t all decide to stream and actually think we’re supporting artists. Yes, it’s awesome. But new artists who have yet to be discovered don’t stand a chance of going the distance with music if all we do is stream music. When you love something you, the fan, have to double down and commit and buy that thing you love. That is, if you want to give up-and-coming artists any chance at all.
I’ve made my own commitment to buy music by newer artists. I’ll stream all the old stuff. I don’t think Led Zeppelin needs my money anymore. They’ve done ok. If music lovers bought just one album a month that wouldn’t break their bank. But it would inject life back into music as a product people actually buy. You don’t have to buy my album (but I hope you do). Buy someone’s album. Maybe buy an album of an up-and-comer. Kanye West will probably make money somehow. He doesn’t need your help. But so many other struggling artists do.
We’ll be launching a new campaign at Trasaterra soon to get people excited about buying music again. It’s simply called Buy Music Love Artists. We’re soft-launching BMLA with the Japan Soul Plastic Utopia record cover. Look to the bottom right of the cover. Soon we’ll fully reveal everything about BMLA. It actually is as self-explanatory as it sounds.
Getty Images are now free and clear to embed. This could make blogging fun again!
I wrote this a few days before I read the very revealing article on Laura Poitras in the NYT. Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Michael Miranda, being detained for 9 hours at London’s Heathrow airport a few days ago is even more shocking. While this post is not a direct response to these recent articles and events, it does confirm the suspicions I’ve raised here.
The bargain was struck. Keep us safe at any cost. For the most part we can believe they have kept us safe. We hadn’t processed the cost. We were never asked to sacrifice for the country like generations passed. We were encouraged to live our free American lives with even more gusto. Only now has the cost become evident. We certainly had an inkling as to what the cost would be. Yet, we weren’t explicitly asked. No amendments to The Constitution were made. Yet they’ve gone ahead and taken our right to privacy as payment for security.
Aside from activist voices, the mainstream, while mildly worried, is not livid. Consider how unacceptable we consider authoritarian governments spying on their citizens to be. Think about stories from history involving the KGB, Gestapo and secret police. Why were they so bad? It’s still, hopefully, early stages, but NSA has the potential to be the next ignominiously evil acronym.
The US government has the most sophisticated propaganda machine in the world. Where contemporary authoritarian regimes like Turkey, China and Russia clumsily provoke their citizens to achieve their ends, America cleverly seeks to placate its “model” citizens—at any cost. The net affect of this citizen-first strategy is a widespread consensus of trust. The US government exploits this trust collateral to justify wars, drone strikes, torture and to obfuscate severe capitalist corruption.
The Snowden Crisis has come at a time when the US propaganda information strategy was not fully complete. While many have become comfortable with living publicly and sharing online it is still a new phenomenon. We were being groomed by both market and governmental forces to live without regard for our privacy. Snowden revealed a true conspiracy of corporations and the government colluding together in engineering citizen behaviour to feed their respective needs. The government hungers for information, corporations for brand engagement. The prospect of joint benefits to be reaped from cooperation between these two forces must have been irresistible. The free market, in cooperation with the government, creates the potential for extremely rapid, large scale innovation. Looking at the meteoric rise of big tech in such a short time, it’s no stretch to conclude this conspiracy has happened and continues.
The secret is out that NSA has been watching all along (or has the capability to watch). We citizens haven’t yet been sufficiently primed to live knowingly without privacy. Yet we must be pretty close as the general feeling towards NSA seems a lot closer to apathy than outrage.
It all comes back to the mainstream belief in the benevolence of our government. Many minority groups in America know the sting of government betrayal all to well. Yet America’s blank check still rests with its rank and file whom it encourages to be selfish, myopic and comfortable. I’m not too hopeful NSA will cease its operations in compromising our privacy. The outrage doesn’t seem to be there. Another brilliant American propaganda strategy is the trivialization of free speech in itself. We can talk of these things openly and casually. With so much opinion the truth becomes diffused, diluted and sanitized. We become confused. Only if NSA missteps by compromising the comfort of the mainstream will there be the will to dismantle this program.
I’m reminded of Martin Niemöller’s famous statement on the dangers of political apathy. He was referring to the inaction of German intellectuals after the Nazi’s rise to power. Nazi Germany is often the most extreme example to cite, but there are crucial lessons to be learned from history.
“First they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.”
I’m fond of Twitter Bootstrap. I like where Bootstrap 3 is going. I’ve used Twenty Ten as a starter theme for innumerable WordPress websites. Instead of learning the logic of other starter theme developers I’ve decided to go ahead and use my own logic by retrofitting WordPress Twenty Ten with the latest and greatest Twitter Bootstrap 3. My work focuses solely on custom designed/branded themes so I’ve removed all theme options and most of the style rules. I have kept most of the Twenty Ten markup so if you’re like me and very familiar with Twenty Ten HTML you can simply add in your styles and experience deja vu. I made this for myself to streamline my own work, but I imagine there are other designers like myself looking for a blank canvas WordPress starter theme that can tap directly into Twitter Bootstrap 3. You could spend a day making something like this like I did. Or you can download this and let me know how I did.
Download Trasa Bootstrap Version 2.1
Updated 8/6/14: Just swapped in Bootstrap 3.2.0, no other changes.
Old Versions (Don’t use these)
Download Trasa Bootstrap Version 2
Updated 6/20/14: Just swapped in Bootstrap 3.1.1, no other changes.
Download Trasa Bootstrap Version 1.9
Download Trasa Bootstrap Version 1.6
Updated 12/4/13: Upgraded to Twitter Bootstrap 3.0.2. Implemented Respond.js script (so this will look decent on IE8). A few minor touch ups. Updated the latest Nav Walker file too, but kept my mod to keep hover navigation dropdown menus.
Download Trasa Bootstrap Version 1.5
Updated 9/12/13: Implemented new Walker Dropdown Menu but changed it so it allows clickable Parent Dropdown on hover (this is always a must in sites I make, Bootstrap doesn’t do it this way. If you disagree and think the parent nav of dropdowns should remain unclickable let me know).
Download Trasa Bootstrap Version 1.4
Updated 9/4/13: Finessing of WordPress specific functions (post/archive navigation)
(upgraded to include additions from latest Twenty Ten 1.6 Upgrade)
There are two op-eds in this weeks New York Times that seem to compliment each other by two authors of complete opposite spectrum and intent.
The Romantic Advantage by David Brooks http://nyti.ms/18CtSpD
The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ by Julian Assange http://nyti.ms/ZBsL93
Brooks writes about how American companies excel at branding to create the impressions of trust and value among customers. He writes China companies have only focused on the bottom-line and thus won’t be a true market threat until they learn how to brand.
Assange writes a response to the book “The New Digital Age” by Google’s Eric Schmidt and former Condoleeza Rice/Hilary Clinton advisor Jared Cohen. He accuses Schmidt and Cohen of heralding the age of compromised privacy via the symbiotic relationship of the government and Silicon Valley and exporting American interests globally using passive means with technology. “Without even understanding how, they have updated and seamlessly implemented George Orwell’s prophecy.”
I can’t help but draw the conclusion that America has used its branding sophistication to remove the discomfort autocratic governments cause their citizens while still overreaching out of the bounds of true liberal democracy the way those governments do. We’ve got drones, Guantanamo, the government assassinating its own citizens, erosion of privacy…all of this has been branded as safety. The majority doesn’t complain (too hard) because the majority is perfectly comfortable. But in a world with Google and the government in bed together perhaps we need to take a sober look at what could happen. Although Facebook gets a lot of flack for its ambivalence for our privacy our real secrets are more likely contained in email. And which email client do you use? Yes, I thought so.
They were shooting Spiderman 2 outside of our window all weekend. We saw them rehearse this shot several times. When we heard “Action!” that was our cue to run to the window to get the money shot.